Why do Lingerie Retailers… Carry Some Brands and Not Others?
Our next installment in the “Why Do Lingerie Retailers…?” series is from Claire of full-busted, online only lingerie boutique Butterfly Collection. Claire was one of my 5 Lingerie Bloggers to Watch in 2012, and I am super excited that she’s here sharing her expertise as a retailer with us.
One of the questions I get asked a lot on Twitter is “Why doesn’t [insert name of boutique here] carry [insert name of favorite lingerie brand here]?” As I don’t have a retail background, I don’t know the answer to that question, but hopefully today’s column will help clear it up for all of us. Here are the five things that dictate a lingerie boutique’s brand selection:
I think most retailers would love to have almost every brand in their store because it’s so beautiful! There are a few factors that dictate which brands a store carries:
Cost – This doesn’t just mean how much a store has available to spend on inventory, but also how much their customers are likely to spend. A store in New York’s Upper East Side is likely to have a higher priced inventory than a mall boutique in suburban Ohio. About 75% of a store’s inventory will be around the same price point (the average amount your particular customer spends) with the remaining 25% making up the discount and high end stock.
Weather – Where your customers live can make a big difference to their bra preferences, which affects the brands you carry. Stores in areas of North America that have lots of cold months sell more basic coloured lingerie than boutiques in warmer places. Some brands have lots of basic options, while others have none, so you buy accordingly.
Fashion – If your store is located in a trendy neighbourhood or you market to a fashion-forward audience, you need to stock the latest styles. If the majority of your customers are more concerned with comfort and not fashion (not that these two can’t co-exist) then you probably don’t stock the latest sheer-cup, leather-trimmed, French plunge bra!
Weight – There are some postal codes in North America where the average weight is higher than others. This can have a big effect on your stock. Many brands specialize in plus size lingerie and if your average customer’s band size is a 42 then you need to have several plus size options available.
Cup Sizes – This is the big deciding factor for us because we only sell Full Bust bras (D-K). Not all brands make bras in these sizes (and I don’t think they all should, D-K requires particular design skills, as do plus size and petite bras). If a brand only goes to an F or G cup we’re less likely to carry it than a brand that goes all the way to K. Buying more stock from fewer brands keeps your shipping costs down too.
Thanks so much for the insight, Claire! Readers, what do you think about the reasons above?